A Pastoral Note to Grace Covenant – April 17, 2020

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As most of you are likely already aware, the Grace Covenant family suffered a loss this past week, with the passing of Ron Klause. Ron’s passing was not virus related; he had been dealing with effects of mesothelioma. Ron went to be with his Lord last Friday evening, April 10 – on Good Friday.  We all continue to pray for Ro, that she will be able to mourn as one with the hope promised by Jesus. (John 14.1-3)

But Grace Covenant also celebrates a new addition! Martina & Nathan Kidwell welcomed their new son, Gabriel Elliott Kidwell, into their family, born at lunchtime last Friday, April 10. (Unfortunatly Martina also experienced the loss of her grandmother on Wednesday of this week.)

The Lord gives and takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord! (Job 1.21)

Like all of you, we continue to roll with the day-to-day, uncertain of when this quarantine will be lifted, and what it will be like once it is. It would be easy to become confused by the complexities, and frustrated by the seeming politicalization of this crisis.  What we do know, and what we must daily remind ourselves, is that God is in control, and that he is using this for his purposes (whatever they may be) and for the good of those who belong to Him. (Romans 8.28) We also know that God has appointed civil authorities, and that we are instructed to be praying for them. (1 Timothy 2.1-3) This is true for both the State and Federal levels, perhaps especially when it seems that their messages are not exactly the same.  And we know that, as God’s people, we are not to allow the complexities nor the frustrations to divide us from one another when our perspectives are not exactly the same. In fact, it is precisely when we may have differing opinions yet continue to love and honor one another that it becomes evident to a fractured and overly-politicized world that we belong to Jesus. (John 13.34-35)

I remain thankful for the faithfulness of the Grace Covenant family. Your continued generosity enables us to continue ministering to our community; and reports of your reaching out to care for one another are encouraging.  Special thanks to Jeni Mortier, who connected us together by coordinating a photo album on Easter Sunday of Grace Covenant church families. If you have not seen it, the album is available on the Grace Covenant Facebook page, and I am told you do not need a Facebook account to access and view the photos. So check it out.

While I am thankful for much, it has been pointed out to me that perhaps some are not aware of all that is still going on. So let me take a moment to fill you in.

In addition to you caring for one another, both Camper and I continue to engage in counseling, albeit mostly via Zoom. So if you, or someone you know, needs an ear, or needs to talk through something, please do not hesitate to call on us.  We will be happy to be available to you.

As always, Kathy continues to handle the administrative matters, including making deposits of our offerings each week. Kathy, Cris Tewksbury, and Susan Tuttle continue to faithfully manage all of the financial aspects of the church, as always (except with appropriate social distancing practices).

Charley has kept the Youth Ministry humming along. In fact, even the Sunday we cancelled last minute, and had no services, Charley was able to hold a youth group online. He has continued to tweak and improve things each week, with the help of his key volunteers (Jamie Field, Chad & Ali Williamson, Laura Smole, and Rachel Bartelmay), holding youth groups on Sunday evening, and D-Groups during the week.  Please continue to pray for our youth ministry, as not only is Charley keeping our teens connected, but some un-churched teens are checking in as well.

Starr is continuing to coordinate our Children’s Ministry activities. Some of the Sunday School teachers are continuing to reach out to the kids, and Starr has been coordinating some alternative activities. One of these activities is a weekly Storytime led by Grace Covenant member, Tara Reeves, who reads for kids from her home each Tuesday evening on Facebook Live. Perhaps the biggest challengs Starr is presently facing is the planning for VBS, which has been scheduled for June 14-19. The uncertainty of when the stay-at-home order will be lifted has Starr looking to an alternate date, or even an alternative plan should the order be extended into August. So please pray for Starr, but in your prayers give thanks to God for giving Starr to us!

Our Deacons continue to serve those in need, both in the church and in the community around us. Please pray for their work, as it almost certainly will increase the longer the quarantine lasts.  Further, in addition to our Deacons, Kathy and Jennifer Allen have been helping me consider various opportunities for serving our neighbors.  I am thankful for all who are giving of themselves to love those around us. This week, I am specifically thankful for all those who made non-surgical masks, that we were able to provide to The Grove and to Consulate nursing home. Oh, and I forgot to mention, Starr and Todd Lins, who heads up our ministry to the residents at Consulate, also have coordinated so that our GCPC kids can draw pictures for the residents – many of whom are not able to see family until the pandemic is under control.

Finally, I especially want to offer a shout out of thanks for Tim Nargi. Tim handles the tech stuff around the church. This is always important, but without Tim’s expertise and faithfulness we’d have been up a creek without a paddle these past several weeks.

This is an overview of what is continuing to go on here at Grace Covenant. In the near future, hopefully next week, I will develop a simple Crisis Plan list, so that all can see who is coordinating what even while we are dispersed. But please know, for now, though we long to be back together, we continue to minister in a wide array of ways.

As I wrap up this pastoral note, I want to invite you to participate in a new initiative. We have, to date, sought to provide a measure of normalcy, in our Sunday worship and our communications, without overwhelming your email boxes. However, with several weeks still ahead of us, we want to explore new ways we can provide beneficial resources to you. So what I have in mind is for you, the congregation, to email any Bible questions you may have, or theology questions, or questions about the gospel & spirituality; then Camper and I will take these questions and do short videos answering them.  I’ll wrote more about this next week, but I thought we might get a start soliciting the questions. So if you have any questions, please email them to me (dennis@gracecovpca.org).

Again, and on behalf of our staff, Elders, and Deacons, I want to express my thankfulness for you all. Even more, in the midst of cultural uncertainty, I am thankful that we have a faithful and powerful God.

Grace & Peace,

Dennis Griffith

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